So Long, Tent

For background info, see “Land Grab” (Aug. 17, 2011) and “What’s Up with the M.V. Times?,” published earlier today.

Much ado has been made about the little structure that Ben Ramsey and Nisa Counter built on their land in Chilmark.

Did they have a permit?
Yes, they did: They explained what they were planning to the Chilmark board of health, and the board of health issued them a permit to operate a tent. Tents don’t require septic systems, but you do have to present a plan for dealing with human waste. Their plan was a composting toilet.

C’mon, is that thing a tent?
It’s called a carpenter’s tent. No, it’s not made of canvas, but it isn’t wired or plumbed either — and it’s removable. Some people have had a real hard time getting their heads around this, so on the theory that a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m going to post six pictures and save me writing, and you reading, six thousand words. With the winds rising and Hurricane Irene contemplating a summer visit, Ben took the tent down this afternoon in about three hours.

The nearly completed tent, at whose appearance the Sheriff's Meadow Foundation freaked out.

The first step was to remove the roof framing.

One person can move a panel. It helps if it's a strong person.

One end is disappearing.

The panels can be stacked in neat piles.

Tent? What tent?

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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4 Responses to So Long, Tent

  1. Thanks for keeping us in the loop. I was pretty curious about this tent — the pictures make it much more clear!


    • You’re very welcome! 🙂 The Martha’s Vineyard Times coverage was trying hard to imply that the carpenter’s tent was really a shed, an auxiliary structure, and/or a permanent building — and thus that Ben and Nisa were somehow putting one over on the town of Chilmark. These photos prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the structure was temporary. Interestingly enough, it was shortly after I posted a link to this blog that I was denied posting privileges on the Times website. I’m still banned, and all my earlier posts on the matter have been wiped off the site.


  2. It seem a perfect solution in light of the history of the Oak Bluffs campground. Other than writing a letter to the Times (hahahaha) what can we do to help Ben and Nisa?


    • Good question. I think writing to executive director Adam Moore and to any/all of the Sheriff’s Meadow board members is the best thing at the moment. IMO a good tack to take is: We’d rather you spend your money on acquiring and maintaining your properties, not on legal fees. Mediation is a better way to resolve this than Land Court.

      SMF website is Board members are listed there. You can contact SMF online through the website. (I’ve got Adam Moore’s e-mail around here somewhere — will post when I dig it up.)
      Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation
      Wakeman Conservation Center
      57 David Avenue
      Vineyard Haven, MA 02568

      Phone: 508-693-5207
      Fax: 508-693-0683


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